Friday, November 04, 2011

Players Say Verlander Was Best

Justin Verlander tweeted yesterday afternoon that there would be a big announcement that night.  Fans speculated whether there was going to be some kind of trade or signing involving the Tigers or whether it would be something more personal such as a marriage to his long-time girl friend.  It turned out that the Tigers ace won both the MLB Players of the Year and the American League Outstanding Pitcher at the Players Choice Awards.  It is quite an honor to be recognized by his peers as the best player in the game.

The Players Choice Award leads to the question as to whether Verlander might win the coveted Most Valuable Player Award for the American League.  It's a foregone conclusion that he will win the Cy Young Award, but it's rare for a pitcher to win the MVP.  I'm not sure if the players choosing him necessarily bodes well for him winning the MVP as the writers have a long history of choosing position players.

Many fans will argue that a starting pitcher is just as valuable as a hitter even if he starts just once every five games.  The reasoning is that a pitcher's impact on one game is much greater than that of a hitter.  That is a legitimate argument, but I don't know if it's the main issue.

My feeling is that the Cy Young Award is the pitchers award and the MVP is the position players award and I would guess that many writers share that sentiment.  The Cy Young is like the MVP for pitchers, so I'm not sure it's fair that they can also win the actual MVP. If they are going to have an MVP for everyone plus an award just for pitchers, shouldn't they also have a separate award just for position players?

Of course, many will argue that there is a difference between "most valuable player" and "most outstanding player".  I am probably in the minority, but my argument is that they both mean the same thing.  I view the player that helps his team win the most games (regardless of the quality of the team) as both the most outstanding and most valuable player.  In the case of pitchers, that is the Cy Young.  For position players, that is the MVP.

Now, if we are just going to have one award for for both pitchers and hitters, I think Verlander is a legitimate choice.  I do question the selections of the other two fnalists - Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson and Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.  I think Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, just to name two, would have been better choices.

I talked yesterday about Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera getting snubbed in the Silver Slugger Award voting.  He was clearly a better hitter than Gonzalez.  You could make a case that Gonzalez makes up the difference with his fielding, but I don't believe that defense at first base has enough of an impact to close that gap.  

Anyway, the AL MVP vote will be interesting.  Cabrera is getting no respect from anyone, so I don't think he'll be in the running.  Verlander probably has a good chance, although I'd bet on Granderson.  As I explained above, I would not choose Verlander because of how I define the awards.  I would choose Bautista.  However, I would understand if others voted for Verlander based on their own definitions of the award

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